I had mentioned on a previous post that I went to St. Herman’s Monastery in the midst of a period of spiritual struggle in my life.
These struggles seem to have a reoccuring theme in my life, they had brought me to the wall where I was trying to make myself okay with throwing in the spiritual towel.
I have considered how I wanted to share about my struggle as well as how I was encouraged. I have decided to just share my notes from that time. What comes first are the notes I made regarding my struggle, and following those notes are the ones I made following my conversation in the Kitchen. I have decided to not explain them, or clarrify them; although some could use a bit of clarification… instead I will just leave them as they are. I do this for a few reasons– A) To avoid over thinking about them in order to explain them. B) That they might encourage someone else. C) As a reminder to myself for when these struggles arise again as to what I have already learned.
And I do this in the hope that no one will stumble because of my words.
May God be glorified in this example of His strength in the midst my weakness.
-I have been Orthodox for 7 years and I still feel like I am in a strange land.
-It seems that alot of what I do as a Christian now– i.e. follow the Fasts, struggle against the passions, and etc is so that I can receive the Eucharist, be considered by others as faithful, and to stay on course for my Godsons.
-I don’t feel any closer to Christ.
-I feel like my struggle against the passions is a work of personal discipline…
-I think about how St. Mary of Egypt struggled for 17 years. But I feel like I struggle on my own… as a parent I know that if I do not offer some sort of encouragement that my kids can become discouraged.
-My prayers are often filled with wandering thots.
-I am aware and acknowledge that I struggle with depression and that I am in that Season currently. But also as these feelings of depression subside all is good. But these similar thots and feelings seem to arise each time.
-I feel boxed in, while at the same time not fully understanding what the Church teaches… as a Protestant I felt more comfident; now I am afraid to step out and say I believe this or that for fear that I am wrong — Our Church holds the right Faith, the right belief and so I want to know and proclaim that… I have done it my own way for years.
-I feel discontent, yet too scared to do anything about it.
-I get discouraged by some of the externals.
-I read about the Saints and Righteous Ones and the do not seem all caught up in regulations, theology, etc… They just seem to flow, loving Christ, His Mother, the Saints and etc. I would like that.
Sure of course there are others you read and the authors seem to focus on others.
-Is it just my struggle to not be at peace?
– – – – – – – – – – – –
+Ascetiscism/Ascetic life, the struggle against the passions is to get the stuff out of the way that keeps us from loving Christ.
That gets in the way between us and Christ. It is like a bulldozer plowing/pushing the junk out of the way.
+It is not performanced based, attempting to please God or earn His favor–
+We can’t force God’s love–we ask for it.
+Spiritual reading is to know Christ, the One I love.
This morning I had coffee with Compadre David, I share a bit with him about this. I mentioned how silly I felt being willing to throw in the spiritual towel over something that was able to be dealt with in 10 minutes. David reminded me to consider where I was at the time… “And…” I added, “…whose prayers I had asked.”
These things, especially the things that ministered to my heart and soul so much, may not seem like alot… but they sank deep into my heart bringing healing and Salvation.
How fragile we humans are… how easily we can get knocked off course. Will this be the last time I struggle? No.
King David said, “What is man that Thou are mindful of him?” I am thankful that God is mindful of us; that He understands our weaknesses way better than we do.
God is good and loves mankind.